FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Missouri goes into its first bowl game under coach Eliah Drinkwitz with one of the nation's worst run defenses and has to face Army's vaunted triple-option offense.
The Tigers understand their tall task in the Armed Forces Bowl on Wednesday night.
“Very impressed with the discipline that Army plays with,” said Drinkwitz, whose team didn't get to play in the Music City Bowl in his debut last season because of COVID-19. “We’re going to have to prepare for both the option, but they do spread out and run some conventional offense, too, which creates a whole other set of issues.”
Army quarterbacks Christian Anderson and Tyhier Tyler have seven rushing touchdowns apiece, while running back Tyrell Robinson has 603 yards rushing to top a list of 10 ball-carriers with at least 100 yards each.
The Black Knights (8-4), who are 3-0 in the Armed Forces Bowl, are second nationally in rushing offense at 284 yards per game. Missouri is 125th out of 130 FBS teams in run defense, allowing 229 yards per game.
“Most people don’t play an offense like ours unless they play in a conference with a team like us,” Army coach Jeff Monken said. “There’s not really anything for us to draw from. But there's enough option principles in what a lot of teams are doing that we can speculate and hope we’re right. It’s really kind of a guessing game for us as to how they will exactly line up to us.”
Missouri (6-6) will be without running back Tyler Badie, who Drinkwitz decided to sit to preserve his NFL future after the senior set a school record with 1,604 yards rushing, which is third in the country.
Drinkwitz said Brady Cook will start at quarterback over Connor Bazelak, who started 11 games but has struggled with turnovers since getting injured against Vanderbilt and not starting the next game against No. 3 Georgia. Tyler Macon got the nod against the Bulldogs and also is in the mix.
“They’re talented enough in every area that we can’t really get into one quarterback or another quarterback,” Monken said. “Just really trying to have a defense that's prepared to defend them in general.”
Linebacker Andre Carter II is the first Army player in 31 years to be an AP All-American. He was a third-team choice and finished second nationally to Alabama’s Will Anderson with 14.5 sacks.
DALLAS-FORT WORTH HISTORY
Missouri is new to the Armed Forces Bowl but not to the postseason in the Dallas area. The Tigers are 2-1 in the Cotton Bowl, mostly recently beating Arkansas 38-7 to cap the 2007 season. Missouri was still in the Big 12 at the time.
Jeff Monken, who is 57-43 in his eighth season, can tie Charles Daly for second all-time in victories at Army. Red Blaik (1941-58) is the leader. He was 121-33-10.
NOT AT A LOSS
Army running back JaKobi Buchanan has 237 consecutive carries without losing yardage. He leads the Black Knights with 11 touchdowns rushing.
NO BLEMISHES SO FAR
Drinkwitz is 8-0 as an assistant and head coach in bowls. His debut as a head coach came in his only season at Appalachian State in 2019, his first head-coaching job. The Mountaineers beat UAB 31-17 in the New Orleans Bowl to finish 13-1. Drinkwitz was offensive coordinator at N.C. State and Boise State.